PRYOR, OK — Times staff
Pryor residents are in a state of shock upon hearing the news that Ivan Williams and his wife, Adina, perished in a plane crash Monday afternoon.
Ivan Williams was piloting the 1997 single-engine Piper Saratoga from Alabama to Oklahoma, where the couple had attended an Arkansas Razorback football game. Their son, Chris, is in school at the University of Arkansas and their son, Marty, graduated from there.
The couple were the only ones aboard. The wreckage was discovered Tuesday morning.
The plane was supposed to land in Claremore Monday afternoon but went down during a rainstorm about 60 miles northeast of Fort Smith, Ark. near Pettigrew, Ark., in Madison County. The plane was found at 8:48 a.m.
Ivan notified air traffic control the plane was experiencing problems at about 2 p.m. It lost altitude while traveling at about 170 miles per hour.
The Williams family owns Williams Construction Company. Locally, however, his legacy may well be his deep involvement in his community.
“Ivan and Adina, the entire Williams family and the Williams Construction family have provided invaluable leadership and support within our community for many years,” Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Hawkins said. “Their generosity, compassion, and love for Pryor reach far beyond our town’s borders.”
Williams served on the Pryor Recreation Center board from its inception and was also a founding member of the Pryor Academic Excellence Foundation.
“The Williamses believed that giving back to their community is a way of life embarked upon each day,” Hawkins said. “We are hard pressed to find a non-profit or youth organization in which they did not have a hand.”
The couple offered leadership and support in many other organizations including Boy Scouts, Women’s Outreach of Hope, Lions Club, American Red Cross and the Chamber of Commerce.
“I remember that we decided not to do the Third Graders go to Work program one year and I don’t think he was ever so annoyed with me,” Hawkins said. “He said that was his favorite program that the Chamber did. It was all about the kids.”
While the couple’s imprint is visible in the many organizations, they often offered support to many others without fanfare or recognition.
“Ivan and Adina were especially involved in educating and mentoring not only the youth, but also the struggling adults,” Hawkins said. “While our hearts are broken with the news of their passing, their legacy will live on in the many lives they have personally touched.”
“They were active in everything from Boy Scouts to Women's Outreach of Hope. In 1992, he started the Pryor Academic Excellence Foundation and got a group of people together to run with it. Who can say no to a great idea like that? It is an excellent legacy in our schools.
“His family donated the land for Centennial Park and Williams Construction did a lot of work on the gazebo and such at that park.
“Adina was just as supportive, the two of them were at every auction and every benefit. She had her own charities she was involved in. Our families have known each other for a long time,” said Pryor resident Cathy Webster.
Williams Construction was formed in 1953. At a 60-year anniversary party this year, Ivan credited his father for much of his success. “My dad always encouraged me to go learn from the world,” Ivan said. “He told me that if I only learned from him, I wouldn’t know any more than he did.
“Growing up in Pryor, my family was always very involved in the community. It’s something they passed on to the rest of us. Pryor is a great place. It was great to grow up here and a great place to raise my kids.”
“Ivan and Adina had a huge, positive impact on the quality of life in Pryor,” said Pryor Mayor Jimmy Tramel. “Just in my tenure, we've seen Centennial Park and the Rec Center because of Ivan Williams. Ivan was very active in the Lions Club, leading projects on the swimming pool and tennis courts.
“Ivan would never say ‘Mayor, do this.’ He would make suggestions with a handshake and a smile, that's the way he did things. He would tell you if he didn’t like something, but he was never condescending about it. Adina was his backbone, his support. They will be missed.”
“They were members here for a long time,” said Rev. Bill Martin, of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. “Their younger sons were raised in this church. They were both very active here. They had a real love for life. They loved to travel and explore together. They were just passionate about life. "
“He is responsible for our entire organization being what it is today,” said Melissa Jones, Vice President of the board of Women's Outreach of Hope. “We were going to have to close the doors and he kept us going. He was our driving force. He was a huge supporter of community events and did a lot of fundraising. He changed the lives of over 75 women in our community. Had it not been for his willingness to help, they would not have had a place to go.
He was a brilliant, dedicated, deeply admired leader. He selflessly served a cause greater than himself. Ivan always explored boundaries and pushed people to become better. He was a real community leader.”
“Every event, golf tournament, Taste of Pryor, Relay For Life, you name it, Ivan and Adina were there,” said Linda Pogue of Pryor Academic Excellence Foundation. “If we (PAEF) needed anything, he or Adina were right there for us. They even let their employees off work to help out and participate in community events.
“Adina had the same type of cancer my son did (colon cancer). She made a point to go out of her way to check on us and see how he was doing. And it was genuine, she truly cared how he was feeling and how we were doing. She was like that with everyone, she genuinely cared about people. This town was their family, and they took care of us.”
Funeral services are 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Burdick Center. A reception will follow at MidAmerica Expo Center in Pryor’s industrial park. Services are under the direction of Key Funeral Home.